Obama has the authority to ensure sequester cuts don’t bite

Facts 1, Democratic Scare Stories of All the Carnage to Result From Cutting $85 Billion Out of a $4 Trillion in Spending 0. From the Wall Street Journal:

[I]f any of these cataclysms [mentioned by President Obama and congressional Democrats] do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama’s own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom.

According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal “projects, programs and activities,” or PPAs. Except for the exemptions in the 2011 budget deal, the White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is. Food inspectors, say, will be treated the same as subsidies for millionaire farmers.

Not so fast. Programs, projects and activities are a technical category of the federal budget, but the sequester actually occurs at the roughly 1,200 broader units known as budget accounts. Some accounts are small, but others contain hundreds of PPAs and the larger accounts run to billions of dollars. For the Pentagon in particular, the distinction between PPAs and accounts is huge. This means in most cases the President has the room to protect his “investments” while managing the fiscal transition over time.

The explanation for this unrealized distinction, the Journal continues, is that the bill hastily passed in 2011 took its language from the 1985 Gramm-Rudman Deficit Control Act. When the federal government is operating under continuing budget resolutions rather than a normal budget, as it has been for a few years now, the 1985 bill (and thus the 2011 bill) provides that cuts can be made at the broader level. Finally, Senate Democrats’ dereliction of duty, in refusing to pass a budget, comes with a benefit.

With the claim that he has no discretion in making budget cuts now disproved, Obama’s case rests on the highly dubious proposition that any cuts of $85 billion out of nearly $4 trillion in spending would be disastrous. No reasonable person can possibly believe the federal government spends every last billion efficiently; it’s why majorities of the public continue to tell pollsters they think spending cuts should be the priority in reducing the deficit, even if they disagree about which particular spending programs should be affected.

Of course, it’s also a dubious proposition that sequestration would lead to unbearable outcomes even absent this flexibility. If the president truly believes that the last $85 billion of federal spending is the difference between order and chaos, then he can’t possibly be believed when he says he’s in favor of cutting any spending at all.

That’s all the more true if the Obama administration really has the flexibility to make cuts in the most prudent fashion possible — and the entire Journal editorial is worth reading to get a full grasp of why that’s true. Any slowing of services from airport security to weather forecasting, or the loss of jobs for teachers and police officers, will be because the cuts weren’t managed properly.

Or, as the Journal puts it: “The real revelation is that if the world does end, it will be Mr. Obama’s choice.”

– By Kyle Wingfield

222 comments Add your comment

Just Saying..

February 27th, 2013
11:03 am

“This is fascism”

To the barricades, Fables!

So many will follow you…

Deep Cover

February 27th, 2013
11:03 am

Aesop–

“Obama should be impeached for releasing illegal alien criminals to scare people.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

This is more stupidity. Exactly WHAT are you suppose to be impeaching the president for???

Just because the GOP gets a hard-on every time the POTUS mentions the immigration does not reach the threshold of a high crime or misdemeanor.

Once again, what HIGH crime or misdemeanor has the POTUS committed.

Here is what is going on. When you do a “raid” an pick up an undocumented immigrant you have to get travel papers/visas in order to ship them back to their country. There are some court rulings/treaties that place hurdles to deporting certain classes of immigrants. For instance, it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to deport immigrants from El Salvador. Middle Easterners are difficult to deport (the Iran/Iraq appeals process is very lengthy…about 2-3 years). It is difficult to deport anyone from China (once again at least a 2 year process). It is difficult to deport Nigerians (another 2 year exercise). So basically we have to warehouse people for 2-3 years for getting picked up for illegally working as a short order cook in a restaurant or working in a chicken processing plant???

All Obama did was release these nonviolent offenders and put them on “house arrest”. Now, I have zero confidence in the US being able to “find” these people b/c they WILL jump ship and enter into the “shadows” of the United States.

But once again, the GOP wanted $85 billion in spending cuts and didn’t specify what accounts they should come out of. So since the Pentagon wants to keep the F-35 program (a plane that we won’t ever use…I don’t remember us getting into any dogfights in Iraq or Afghanistan), the cuts have to come from somewhere. So Obama is just to piss-off the GOP by placing these undocumented immigrants under “house arrest” so he can furlough the detention officers to “save” the sequester money.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:05 am

the Fed was keeping interest rates unusally low.

Because banks still won’t lend money. This is also a reason why companies are hoarding cash. When it is time to invest, they can’t count on the banks.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:08 am

releasing illegal alien criminals to scare people.

I think you be scared of the wrong people. I mean, these aren’t eh people shooting up our schools and doing mass killings. Or threatening to kill many people if we put in gun control laws.

Mike

February 27th, 2013
11:08 am

smoke and mirrors and a President and Congress that act like a children.
Our country is in a mess folks.

jconservative

February 27th, 2013
11:09 am

I have been trying to get spending cuts since Reagan and a Democratic House and a Republican Senate decided that cutting revenue and increasing spending was the ticket to a balanced budget.
And except for the 4 years of a Republican Congress and a Clinton presidency that is what we have done every year since 1981, reduce revenue and increase spending.

So I welcome the sequester with open, grateful arms. I love it! Just wish it were bigger.

td

February 27th, 2013
11:10 am

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
10:53 am

More signs of the Cons getting sanity back:

After proposing a non-starter version of the Violence Against Women Act, House Republicans are backing down and signaling that they will clear the way for a vote on the bipartisan Senate version of the bill, which includes expanded protections for LGBT women, Native Americans, and undocumented immigrants.

We just decided that women can now serve in combat roles and are equal to men on every front so why do they need special protections with this act?

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

February 27th, 2013
11:10 am

Dems are right that we can borrow money at almost zero interest. So what do we do, borrow as much as we can. This is a suckers bet. At some point we will be forced to refinance that debt and the interest rate may be 6-7%, what then? We are insolvent.

I saw this on a smaller scale in the 60’s and 70’s in S GA when the Feds got totally crazy with making money available for farmers. Some could see the downside, but others took the money while they could and bought new cars, tractors, and condo’s on the beach. ALL of the takers are now working for someone else now, having lost everything their family had accumulated for generations. Debt has a way of catching up with you when you least expect it.

Mike

February 27th, 2013
11:11 am

Finn are these the “people” you mean who shoot thousands every year and are completely ignored?
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/student-wounded-at-grady-high/nWbhG/

td

February 27th, 2013
11:12 am

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:05 am

the Fed was keeping interest rates unusally low.

Because banks still won’t lend money. This is also a reason why companies are hoarding cash. When it is time to invest, they can’t count on the banks.

Are you going to lend your money to people or companies that can not pay it back and when the bill is due will run to court and ask for protections against you from collecting your money?

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 27th, 2013
11:13 am

To the barricades, Fables!

So many will follow you…

You might want to pop your head out of that bubble, or where ever it is you have it stuck, and take a look around here on planet Earth.

You’ll find it quite hilarious to see that under obozo the belligerent, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.

And believe me, I fully understand where you are coming from, even Mussolini had his supporters.

Mike

February 27th, 2013
11:14 am

or perhaps these fine citizens popping off a few rounds at each other…..

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/shots-fired-between-family-members-after-funeral/nWZ8w/

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:14 am

We have the administration releasing illegals and cancelling the deployment of an aircraft carrier to further scare the public even Bob Woodward has had enough of this blithering idiot in the oval office.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bob-woodward-tears-into-obama-with-veiled-nixonian-criticism-madness-that-i-havent-seen-in-a-long-time/

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:16 am

Our country is in a mess folks.

I’m not happy. Boo hooo hooo hoooo

Want some cheese with that whine?

MarkV

February 27th, 2013
11:17 am

Dusty @ 10:41 am

My, my, Dusty, you are fired up today. Did you have a bad dream about “tyrant Obama?”

Just a couple of days ago, Sen. McCain asked for the President “to lead,” a demand and complaint we have heard many times from the Republicans. They should get their act together and decide which nonsense they prefer – that Obama “is not a leader,” or that he “is a tyrant.”

TBone

February 27th, 2013
11:18 am

These cuts won’t amount to a pinch of poodle poop in the snow bank and our campaigner in chief knows damn well but he has to feed the underinformed their gruel so they can get on blogs like this and espouse the party line. You guys ain’t quite as smart as you think you are, FYI.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:18 am

cancelling the deployment of an aircraft carrier

oh…my…god

How many aircraft carriers do we currently have? Now, how many aircraft carriers do the next 30 countries COMBINED have? People, grow a pair….ALREADY

Mike

February 27th, 2013
11:21 am

That’s where you are wrong Finn, my dear. I live up in the mountains and I am very happy. I spent the first 25 years of my life down there in that jungle you call Atlanta, and the last 25 as far away from it as I could get. :)

Just Saying..

February 27th, 2013
11:22 am

“Why would anyone buy our debt when it exceeds GNP? I haven’t a clue. But you know, people were still giving Bernie Madoff (sp) millions right up to the end.”

Retired Soldier, too prideful to re-examine the logic corner he’s chosen, now seeks cover by comparing US debt instruments to investments with a criminal Ponzi fraud artist.
Soldier, even Generals are obligated to acknowledge when their battlefield position is untenable.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:23 am

We just decided that women can now serve in combat roles and are equal to men on every front so why do they need special protections with this act?

umm, try reading sometime? Are you even aware of the rape problem in the military or that if a non-indian goes onto an indian reservation and rapes an indian woman, they can’t prosecute them in a normal sense?

We just decided that women can now serve in combat roles and are equal to men on every front

yeah, and I suppose you think we’ve successfully made it so that blacks are equal to whites on every front?

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:29 am

How many aircraft carriers do we currently have? Now, how many aircraft carriers do the next 30 countries COMBINED have? People, grow a pair….ALREADY –

What are you stupid don’t follow the news reports. Obama cancelled that deployment and publicly announced he had to because of the pending sequestration. Geez grow up.

Aquagirl

February 27th, 2013
11:29 am

I live up in the mountains and I am very happy.

Ah, complaining about the city via his Obamanet connection. They grow lots of irony up there.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

February 27th, 2013
11:30 am

http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2012/07/17/why-does-the-united-states-only-have-eleven-aircraft-carriers/

Finn, we currently have 11. In 2003, we had 6 in the middle east region, so Obama is lying again, when he says we can’t have 2 over there. If half are in for repairs, that means we have 6 available, so how many hot spots are out there, that would prevent us from putting two in the ME?

Just Saying..

February 27th, 2013
11:33 am

“And believe me, I fully understand where you are coming from, even Mussolini had his supporters.

And Romney.
And Santorum.
And Cain.
And Paul.
And Bachman.
And Trump.
And Palin.
And Gingrich.

But thankfully, never enough supporters. In America…

Retired Soldier

February 27th, 2013
11:33 am

Just Saying-

Wasn’t a general, but would have liked to have been one. That aside, I am just agreeing with our President that the deficit and debt levels are unpatriotic. Don’t you agree with the President?

BTW, do you know who is the largest puechaser of our debt? Hint, it isn’t China.

td

February 27th, 2013
11:34 am

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
11:23 am

We just decided that women can now serve in combat roles and are equal to men on every front so why do they need special protections with this act?

umm, try reading sometime? Are you even aware of the rape problem in the military or that if a non-indian goes onto an indian reservation and rapes an indian woman, they can’t prosecute them in a normal sense?

We just decided that women can now serve in combat roles and are equal to men on every front

yeah, and I suppose you think we’ve successfully made it so that blacks are equal to whites on every front?

Everyone in this nation was equal before the law before progressives decided that certain groups should have special rights. It is time for all those special rights to be done away with (VAWA, Voting rights act, Civil rights act…) and let us get back to the concept that everyone is equal before the law.

td

February 27th, 2013
11:38 am

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:29 am

How many aircraft carriers do we currently have? Now, how many aircraft carriers do the next 30 countries COMBINED have? People, grow a pair….ALREADY –

We need as many as it takes to make sure no nation or no terrorist even considers attacking this nation because of the total hell we would bring down on their heads immediately. 9-11, Iraq, N. Korea and Iran are proving right now that we do not have enough yet.

Dusty

February 27th, 2013
11:43 am

Dear MarkV

No I did not have a bad dream about Presdient Obama being a “tyrant”. I simply read the news. The members of his cabinet are now releasing federal prisoners from jail and blaming cost cuts which are not even in force yet. So this great power to change the law as is convenient is justifiable? I don’t think so.

Sure, there will be “loopholes” cited which give “power” to do what anyone likes and on and on. So “tyrant” does come to mind although you named it. Perhaps that drift has entered your mind. It should have.

PS: I am keeping Ken Follet in mind at book sales. I haven’t found any detective stories I like. And Marguerite de Valois, last of a 200 year rule! If she wrote something still remembered after 500 years, she must have been good! You are going way back. What next? “All Gaul is divided into three parts…etc.!”? Not familiar with Dana Stabenow but will keep her in mind too. Any story with a “Mutt” should be good.

Aquagirl

February 27th, 2013
11:47 am

We need as many as it takes to make sure no nation or no terrorist even considers attacking this nation because of the total hell we would bring down on their heads immediately

People who fly planes into buildings are probably not scared of an airplane with a bomb, no matter how fancy we make them.

Just Saying..

February 27th, 2013
11:50 am

“Don’t you agree with the President?”

Not always. Ethanol subsidies are a hustle. Increasing ethanol content in gasoline from 10% to 15% is the wrong direction. And many other disagreements.
But to your point, I agree with our two term President, and the majority of Americans, that the deficits and our debt need to be addressed by a combination of cuts to entitlement programs, tax reform (primarily deductions to you,loopholes to another), and tax rate increases. None of which serve my personal self interest.
A balanced approach. Just cuts will never get us there.

Enjoyed it, but gotta go. Packing for a few weeks of Spring Training.
But I’ll look in between innings…

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

February 27th, 2013
11:50 am

From the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr:

“Here’s how absurd these scare tactics are. Over the weekend the semi-official Associated Press breathlessly reported in a story on the National Park Service: “3,500 volunteers who provide 40,000 hours on resource management duties would be eliminated.”

They’re eliminating … volunteers? How does this save money?”

Oh, the humanity! :)

1961_Xer

February 27th, 2013
11:51 am

How many aircraft carriers do we currently have? Now, how many aircraft carriers do the next 30 countries COMBINED have? People, grow a pair….ALREADY

EXACTLY, Finn, why the sequester should be allowed to happen. To hear the DOD whine, you would think that we were down to a single lifeboat and a case of MREs. I am a fiscal conservative. The DOD budget could be cut in HALF, and we would still be the most militarily powerful country in the world. Now, we would not want that kind of a cut all at once… it would devastate the economy. But these and all of the rest of the cuts are needed, overdue, and will ultimately have little impact.

Retired Soldier

February 27th, 2013
11:52 am

AQ-

You are correct, but hopefully the nationstate that harbours them will be scared of the reponse we would give.

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:53 am

td@11:38, I was replying to Finn McTool’s 11:18

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

February 27th, 2013
11:55 am

I doubt this will happen, but at some point MarkV will need to learn the difference between what constitutes a leader vs. a tyrant.

Most people who have served in the military have observed the difference in real time.

Retired Soldier

February 27th, 2013
11:55 am

JUst Saying-

OK, now you have done it. Using Spring Training as an excuse. I am sooooo, envious! Increase tax rates? OK, as long as they are increased on everyone and everyone pays income tax for what the federal government spends.

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:57 am

People who fly planes into buildings are probably not scared of an airplane with a bomb, no matter how fancy we make them.

No but their state enablers are.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
12:01 pm

The new splinter group party of the GOP can be called the CGSBTSMFK Party:

“Continuously Getting Schooled by the Socialist Muslim from Kenya”

1961_Xer

February 27th, 2013
12:02 pm

We need as many as it takes to make sure no nation or no terrorist even considers attacking this nation because of the total hell we would bring down on their heads immediately. 9-11, Iraq, N. Korea and Iran are proving right now that we do not have enough yet

The list of countries trying to gain/maintain military control of the world stage is long. Nearly all of them ended in huge debt and/or bankruptcy. The list includes: The Roman Empire, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain, France , the Monguls, the Moors, the Ottoman Empire, Germany, the Soviet Union, China (various dynasties).

If we continue on the path of trillion dollar deficits, why do you think that this will end differently for the U.S?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
12:04 pm

9-11, Iraq, N. Korea and Iran are proving right now that we do not have enough yet.

10 drones can probably do enough damage. Why do you need 50 aircraft with 50 Americans (at risk of dying, mind you) flying off an aircraft carrier?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
12:06 pm

Britain once ruled the seas and it was said “the sun never sets on the British empire.”

And it hasn’t been that long since that was true. Military might is no longer the main tool to stay on top.

keith

February 27th, 2013
12:06 pm

obama has decided to release illegal criminals in this country. no leadership from the WH. Put peoples lives in danger to make political hay.

Aquagirl

February 27th, 2013
12:07 pm

You are correct, but hopefully the nationstate that harbours them will be scared of the reponse we would give.

A pointless decade+ war that will drain our resources? What a terrifying response.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 27th, 2013
12:08 pm

Rome lasted 500 years. We are in our 237th year. We can’t rely on military might any more.

Just Saying..

February 27th, 2013
12:13 pm

“OK, now you have done it.”
:) )
If you’ve ever thought about it, go, even just a long weekend. Everybody is smiling, especially NE and upper Midwest folks. From St. Pete, Blue Jays, Phillies, Tigers, Pirates, Yankees and Oriole stadiums are all within a 45 minute drive. And people sing the words to the national anthem. Add in beaches, Tampa Bay Downs, grouper sandwiches…

“everyone pays”
We’re in agreement. But remember FICA, Medicare, and sales taxes are hard to avoid.
Income? If it takes that to make a compromise, ok. Everybody needs to have skin in the game.

And we’ll take up universal service next time. Later…

td

February 27th, 2013
12:21 pm

Del

February 27th, 2013
11:53 am

td@11:38, I was replying to Finn McTool’s 11:18

My apologies. I meant to delete your screen name from the top prior to posting the crazy statement Finn made.

indigo

February 27th, 2013
12:25 pm

Aesop – 11:13 “under obozo…the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer”

And, the EXACT same thing happened under eight years of George W.

Just can’t bring yourself to admit that can you toolie?

td

February 27th, 2013
12:27 pm

I am sure you leftest are going to call Woodward a extreme right wing Republican now or even better a racist.

“The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward ripped into President Barack Obama on “Morning Joe” today, saying he’s exhibiting a “kind of madness I haven’t seen in a long time” for a decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf because of budget concerns.

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Woodward said.

“Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need?’” Or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ … because of some budget document?”

The Defense Department said in early February that it would not deploy the U.S.S. Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf, citing budget concerns relating to the looming cuts known as the sequester.

“Under the Constitution, the President is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. ‘I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country,’” Woodward said.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/bob-woodward-obama-sequester-republicans-2013-2#ixzz2M7aiK1pG

Matt321

February 27th, 2013
12:30 pm

@Finn – you are correct in saying that military over-extension and empire building broke the Roman empire, but I was curious as to your timeline of how long Rome lasted. The Roman Republic lasted roughly 500 years, until it was replaced by the Empire, which was headed by whoever could get the Roman Army to back them. The Empire then developed two centers – Rome in the West, and Byzantium in the East. The Western Roman Empire lasted roughly 500 years. The Eastern Empire lasted another thousand or so. In a sense, Rome had a good 2000 year run. However, as a place where men believed in self-government, yeah, 500.

Scooter

February 27th, 2013
12:32 pm

But politically The Obama needs to make the cuts harsh, so he can demonize republicrats and further divide the nation. He is fundamentally transforming the country and we can either acquiesce or be portrayed as the scourge of the earth. There is nothing bipartisan about this President, it’s Chicago politics all the way for him.